Researchers say E. coli food poisonings are costing $244 million a year.
The study was prepared before the XL Foods Inc. crisis which has resulted in the largest food recall in Canadian history, has disrupted the entire Canadian beef supply chain and the food poisoning of at least 15 people.
The researchers used data compiled by the National Notifiable Disease Registry to estimate the direct costs to the Canadian health care system and the indirect costs to society from lost productivity and premature deaths.
The Long-term Health Study from 2002 to 2008 tracked outcomes from the E. coli 0157:H7 poisoning of Walkerton residents whose drinking was contaminated.
According to the model the researchers developed, more than 23.300 Canadians suffer E. coli food poisoning every year, most of them from E. coli 1057:H7 and most of that from cattle.
The report says about half of Canadian beef cattle are carrying E. coli 0157, but also says farmers could greatly reduce that incidence through vaccination.